Japanese girl accused of killing classmate

A girl aged 11 slashed a girl classmate to death with a knife yesterday in a study room in an elementary school in Japan.

A girl aged 11 slashed a girl classmate to death with a knife yesterday in a study room in an elementary school in Japan.

The victim was hit in the neck and arms and stabbed with a small knife which has a retractable blade used to cut paper, police in Sasebo, 650 miles south-west of Tokyo, said.

She was named as Satomi Mitarai, 12. The name of the attacker was withheld, under Japanese legal protection for juvenile offenders. "I can't understand at all how it happened," the victim's father, Kyoji Mitarai, said. He told reporters his daughter always seemed to get on with her classmates. "When I arrived, Satomi was already lying there collapsed," he added. "I couldn't believe what I was seeing."

His daughter's body, with the throat deeply cut, was discovered in a third-floor study room at lunchtime by a teacher. Kazuyoshi Tominaga, an official at the Sasebo Central Fire Department, said: "A girl's body was lying face down on the floor. She was unconscious and not breathing. There was no heartbeat and no one else was at the scene."

Agents quickly apprehended the young suspect, who was being questioned. Police said she had confessed, though they had not yet found a motive. The public broadcaster, NHK, said the girl told officers she had called Satomi to the room where she attacked her but had not said why.

Increasing violence in schools and among youth has been a rising concern in Japan. Last July, a 12-year-old boy was accused of kidnapping, molesting and murdering a four-year-old in Nagasaki. In the same month, a 14-year-old boy was arrested for beating a 13-year-old classmate to death in Okinawa.

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